Hurricanes are an unfortunate part of Texas culture. We watch our preferred denomination of meteorologist plot the path of each storm to prepare those in the way prior to landfall, which is counted down with the precision of the New Year’s ball dropping in Times Square. This provides an opportunity for communities and families to prepare as the storm’s name becomes part of the local vernacular.

Hurricane preparation in each social class varies as greatly as the speed of gusts of wind. Families with security in middle class and wealth watch the storm with a hit-or-miss state of mind. Are we safe or unsafe? Everything else is insured. In poverty, it is not that simple. In poverty, stuff leaks. Problematic homes considered an unwise investment in middle class become owner-financed properties attainable to families in poverty. In poverty, if our vehicle starts, we drive it. I once drove a 30-year-old ragtop Miata to a job an hour each way through a wet, cold winter without the back glass. As Dr. Ruby Payne teaches, poverty inspires creativity.

The first attempted solution to being rained on as I drove was to line the car with towels before travel, but then I had to drive home in the rain with wet towels. Plan B was diapers, which very successfully draw moisture away from car upholstery and electrical parts but look super tacky and cannot absorb quickly. That led me to the perfect preparation for any anticipated leak, such as from a hurricane. If you open the trunk of my Miata currently, you will find two tablespoons of water beads.

Water beads are a child’s toy, and Walmart sells 4 oz. for around $3. They look like small beads until the child just adds water. Then they expand up to six times in size by absorbing the water. I have tested the absorbing properties of magic beads in leaky things I cannot afford to repair, including under my car seats, the cabinet under my kitchen sink, the air conditioner condensation, and under a roof leak. Place beads in leaky areas and worry not. They hold the water that leaks into your space and postpone some of the water damage until you get off work. Be careful, though. Water beads may clog your drains or toilet if you wash them down the sink/bathtub or try to flush them.